OPINION: Uche Ogah and his lawyers

By FN Editor on 01/06/2019

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By Onyebuchi Ememanka

It is no longer news that the much vaulted petition filed by Uche Ogar, the APC Gubernatorial Candidate in the last election has been thrown out by the Elections Petitions Tribunal. 

The Tribunal dismissed the petition for failing to comply with a fundamental statutory requirement of filing pre trial documents at least seven clear days before hearing can commence. They failed to do that. That error goes to the root of the petition. It is not a mere irregularity that can be overlooked.

I don’t know the kind of lawyers Ogar hires but one thing I have discovered is that they end up misleading him and doing a very bad job.

Election petitions are very technical in nature and top lawyers who have excelled in that area are usually very meticulous. 
One thing I learnt in my early days of practice from my then Principal, Obinna Nkume, Esq was to look out for procedural irregularities once we are appearing for the defense. He told me then and I still remember that many lawyers are usually in a hurry to rush to court without taking time to study the laws that govern the case they want to file. They end up making loads of mistakes and procedural missteps that can kill off the case once you spot them. 
He taught me again to always ensure that I cross every T and dot every I before I file any case in court.

Filing of pre trial documents is a fundamental requirement in the Electoral Act. It is clearly specified there including the time frame for doing so. Once you don’t comply with that time frame, the petition dies a natural death. Indeed, once that requirement is ignored, the law deems it that the petitioner has abandoned the petition.

Why does Uche Ogar hire lawyers that end up embarrassing him in court? This is one question he needs to ask himself.

In 2015, they convinced him that he can become Governor even when he didn’t participate in the general elections because, in their funny imagination, Ikpeazu’s tax papers contained false papers.
They forgot two important factors. First, that payment of tax is not a mandatory requirement to contest elections under our Constitution.

Secondly, that Ikpeazu, being a Public Servant then, his taxes were deducted at source by the relevant tax authorities and that even if his tax papers were not properly prepared, the blame cannot be put on him, since he neither determined how much his tax was and how the papers were prepared.

They goaded him into a wild goose chase that turned into a judicial ritualistic mumbo jumbo that ended in a fiasco.

This time, he managed to get a ticket to run for elections. He ran a lack luster campaign and hardly addressed our people. He granted very few interviews. Indeed, the only interview he granted was two days to the election. He personally didn’t visit all the government areas during the campaign. He ran the bulk of his campaign on social media with majority of his image makers residing in Lagos and only visited here once in a while.
When the results came, he won in two local governments out of seventeen. Yet he rushed to the Tribunal for them to make him Governor. Those same set of lawyers convinced him yet again. 
Election petitions are usually expensive. They don’t come cheap. After getting paid, the least his lawyers could have done was to comply with what the law says. That shouldn’t be a problem. But they didn’t and now, the entire petition has been thrown away like a pack of rubbish. 
Even his lawyer agreed that the Tribunal was correct in dismissing the petition.

Quite frankly, if I were Uche Ogah and following the DISMISSAL of my petition, I will retaliate by DISMISSING all my lawyers and hire new ones.

 

 

Posted on June, 1 2019

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